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Amity Law School (IP) expresses sadness but claims it had ‘absolutely no role’ in student Sushant Rohilla suicide that went viral [UPDATE-1]

Sushant Rohilla RIP
Sushant Rohilla RIP

Following Delhi’s Amity Law School, IP University, student Sushant Rohilla having hanged himself at his home on 10 August, as reported by the Hindustan Times at the time, has gone viral after a social media campaign by his friends and family, with several mainstream websites picking up the story.

The HT had reported police officials saying:

In his suicide note, he said he was ashamed of not being a good son, a good brother, and a good friend. “It is unclear why he took the extreme step. He wrote he was a failure and did not wish to live,” a senior police officer said.

Rohilla’s father is Jagdish Kumar, a joint secretary in the Rajya Sabha, newspapers had reported.

But several of his friends and family members have claimed that Rohilla had allegedly killed himself after having been harassed for his lack of attendance and threatened with having to re-take a year, after not having been able to fulfil the college’s attendance requirement for after a foot injury.

His friends blamed the college’s inflexible attendance policies and insensitive way of the administration for dealing with his case, in messages and posts on social networks, with protests having taken place outside of Amity’s campus today.

Third-year student Rohilla had apparently written an email to Amity University founder and chairman Dr Ashok K Chauhan on 11 May, just before his exam, saying he “might not mentally survive” debarment and having to repeat the year.

In response to a request for comment made by us, an Amity spokesperson has sent the following statement by email:

All students of Amity Law School, Delhi  and the management as well as the whole Amity fraternity are extremely sad on the loss of our dear student Sushant Rohilla.  It is a great loss to Amity Law school and the Amity fraternity as a whole. 

Amity Law School, Delhi, is affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh IP University, Delhi.

The students were detained as per the decision of Guru Gobind Singh IP University and in that Amity Law School itself had absolutely no role.

The Law school officials had gone to meet the bereaved parents and pay condolence. The parents of the deceased have expressed that there is no fault of Amity Law School Delhi in this tragic incident .

We have responded with a number of further clarifications from Amity, notably on whether Amity Law School had any discretion whatsoever in the matter, whether they had communicated with Sushant Rohilla and whether they had ever offered him counselling or advice to deal with his attendance issues.

Update 17:04: University’s further response

In response to our queries, an Amity spokesperson has added by phone that Rohilla had 43 per cent attendance in the last year, whereas the official attendance requirement of IP University, which conducts the exam, was 75 per cent.

Two emails had been sent to his father about Rohilla’s insufficient attendance before the university examinations were to take place in May of this year, added the spokesperson.

In response to our question, the spokesperson also added that Amity Law School had a “student counselling centre” with trained counsellors, who are available to any students to discuss personal or other issues.

We have reached out to Rohilla’s uncle, Dinesh Rohilla, on Amity’s statement.

Relative claims abetment to suicide

Dinesh Rohilla is an advocate who appeared to have been standing for election as secretary to the Delhi Bar Association in June, and had posted on 14 August on Facebook alleging that:

Abetment of Suicide: A callous & arbitrary system of Amity University caused the death of my nephew Late Sushant Rohilla, a brilliant and extremely meritorious law student of Amity on a minor issue of shortage of attendance. It is quite evident from the email sent by him to the concerned & responsible person of Amity.

He had requested not to debar him on account of shortage of attendance on several grounds including medical ground as well. He also gave coherent & alarming signals, if his request is not conceded or considered,

1. he may not mentally survive,

2. It will hamper his life to an unimaginable extent

3. It will destroy his life

4. It is his last hope.

But it is an utter shock, a renowned university didn't give any attention towards the last request of a vulnerable student who was not only a outstanding student but also he was an asset for the Amity university.

Having no hope in life and under compelling circumstances & situations, he had taken his life. This is my wake up call for all students of Amity University to share this maximum so that in future, Amity will not dare to take life of other students on such minor issue of attendance as discussed.

Sacrifice of life of Sushant value of others.

I am reproducing the entire contents of email also. Thanks. With regards.

A few days earlier, he had posted on Facebook:

Being a Lawyer & Maternal Uncle of Sushant Rohilla, I want to bring in the kind notice of all. Today in cut throat competition, lives of children have become miserable in the context of educational system . The unfortunate incident is one of the consequences arising out of the same. Students have raised their voices since, Sushant lost his life as he was not promoted on account of shortage of attendance.

The message has become viral sent by students:

Sushant Rohilla, a 4th year student of Amity Law school Delhi, after being harassed by college authorities for attendance and subsequent year detention, committed suicide on 10th August by hanging himself. He was an extremely meritorious student and actively took part in all college activities but was constantly pressurized as a result of extremely stringent and inflexible attendance norms of the college and an arbitrary method of detaining students from taking university exams. Despite all this, the insensitivity shown on the part of college authorities and a failure to even acknowledge the tragic death of a student is extremely appalling. Many students of this law school have been previously detained and forced to repeat year after year when they fail to abide by the mandatory 75% attendance criteria, even on medical grounds and the college lacks any redressal mechanism for such cases. Please share this as much as you can. A matter like this calls for attention.

A number of tweets by Twitter user Teerth Waraich went viral yesterday:

I will start a series of tweets, explaining a recent tragedy that has happened regarding my friend and my college. I beg for support

Sushant Rohilla, a bright 3rd year student in my college, Amity Law School, IP University, committed suicide by hanging himself.

The reason behind this extreme step was because the college debarred him from giving his exams due to his unfullfilment of attendance

The reason why he missed college was because he had suffered a foot injury, which made him unable to go to college.

But his pleas fell on deaf ears. You can see my friend, Sushant, begging for another chance, they didn't even reply.

He did everything for our college. He participated in competitions and won them, he organized events out of his own pocket.

He was also the head of the Debating society. He taught me everything there is to know about debating. Mentored me, tutored me.

My college (Amity Law School, IP University) killed him. Took a child away from his parents, made sure that his sister can't tie him a Rakhi

Our college has a 75% attendance norm but it is completely arbitrary. They forgave attendance for Miss India contestant but killed my friend

Responding to lawyer Dushyant K Mahant’s offer of legal assistantce, he responded:

I believe his family has already hired a lawyer and are filing at least two civil cases. Thank you for your kind offer.

Are there larger issues of institutional apathy?

Delhi advocate (and Amity graduate) Apar Gupta tweeted in reaction to the story, raising arguably more endemic issues of “insensitivity and institutional apathy”:

Many years ago, I attended Amity Law School. It seems nothing has changed. It still reeks of insensitivity & institutional apathy.

In my 4th year of law school I did something stupid. Opened up a blog with two other friends. Was called, "mutiny in amity". I was stupid.

For this, we were called to Amity's Def. Col. office under the pretext of sponsorship for an international moot. I was part of the team.

It was one of the first international moots we had qualified for. We were proud and happy. We sat in a conference room expecting good news.

A senior founder of the institution entered. He showed us pictures on the blog which were ours. And asked us who ran it. I answered plainly.

Immediately cellphones were "confiscated". It is 2005/6. Were analog phones for calls. Then locked in the room. Told we would be restigated.

A teammate and a co-author after 2 hours of being locked started crying and said he did not know what he would do. He was scared.

Hours of being locked our parents figured something was wrong. Called a PCR & registered a complaint for kidnapping. Compromises were made.

Blog had to be deleted. But I kept printouts from, "http://mutinyinamity.blogspot.com ". For weeks we were scared. No one to talk in the administration

We did not have a faculty supervisor, no residential boarding hence no warden, no student council as unions are banned in IP University.

Not saying I am not at fault here. I may fully be. But I do think it is a college's responsibility to have sensitivity with young kids.

The exact words of my co-author were, "if i am thrown out of college, my life will be destroyed". He was stronger than this. Thankfully.

Some months later in another incident, his mother told us, "You guys have exercised all your fundamental rights in college itself". /end

Not kicking Amity when it is down. Spoke about this 2 years ago at Converge. Hope things change with time. We need more empathy in teaching.

Point of this thread is reaching for empathy in higher education. Students need sensitivity & support. Old models of authority do not work.

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